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Quixotic as it may be

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 07:57 AM    Views : 11809by:Aristotle P. Carandang, PhD

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

    Yes, this is the quest!

    These first four lines of the old song 'The Impossible Dream" from the movie Don Quixote dela Mancha, a 1947 classic film, are a fitting introduction not only to the story of the DREAM project but also to the people who strive to reach what others might have called the impossible.

    When the first few souls were "willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause" in order to sell the idea of the DREAM project, which by the way stands for Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment for Mitigation, many an eyebrow raised that almost reached the stratosphere.  And people were probably muttering that no Filipino can be good enough to engage into something as highly technical as what was proposed. Unfortunately for those non-believers, the DREAM project has already caught the attention not only of the powers-that-be but even the most ordinary of us Filipinos.

    Despite such skepticism, the project has now become one of the more high profile components of the equally celebrated NOAH or the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards that has put the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) into the limelight. It has also made the DOST a specimen under the microscope.

Related stories:

Project NOAH

DOST's DREAM Planes Take Maiden Voyage for 3D Mapping

DOST's DREAM project takes off


    Perhaps, what has made DREAM as exciting as it is now may not only be the 3D maps it generates but also the information it shares that would help ensure the country's survival and future in an era characterized by extreme and rapidly changing climate. The maps would be useful in completing the flood models of our major river basins that actually cover 33 percent or about one-third of the land area of the entire Philippine archipelago.

    What makes the project extraordinary is the fact that the DREAM team is composed of Filipino scientists and engineers; and it works at the interface of science, technology, and social science in order for the country to be capacitated for disaster preparedness and mitigation. The DREAM team said, "We may not be able to stop nature but we can prevent natural hazards from turning into a disaster" and impressed that the project taps on current climate science knowledge using state-of-the-art technologies for flood hazard mapping such as ISIS and LiDAR, among others, that can generate and communicate reliable and timely data for more accurate forecasts and impact scenarios. Their goal is to provide local government units and communities, especially those in the more vulnerable areas for sufficient lead time to prepare and respond appropriately.
    
Related stories:

LiDAR to provide real-time forecasting

LiDAR Philippines photos

    The NOAH and DREAM are only two of the stimulating inputs to a bigger and more ambitious DOST initiative called "Smarter Philippines", and DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo has promised more and exciting developments in the days to come as regards "smarter" actions. Another feature of the project worth emulating is the strong partnership it has developed between and among the DOST and its agencies such as the Advanced Science and Technology Institute, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, Astronomical Services Administration, Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development, and the Philippine Training Center for Applied Geodesy and Photogrammetry of the University of the Philippines.  

    Then maybe, Mark Twain was right after all when he said, "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

Related stories:

DOST to launch "Smarter Philippines" program

Note: This article forms part of the editorial written by the same author for the 2013 1st quarter issue of S&T Post.

 

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